With a price tag of $74,900, the fastest version of the Mercedes A-Class is less than half the cost of the previously most affordable AMG-badged car, the $154,900 C63 AMG sedan.
The Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG brings a different approach to AMG models, which have been traditionally rear-wheel drive and powered by V8s (and some V12s, too).
Benz’s hottest A-Class, however, becomes the first AMG model to feature all-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine.
Mercedes-Benz Australia’s general manager of sales, Richard Emery, said the A45 was following the regular A-Class in luring younger and different buyers to the brand – including V8 drivers.
“Clearly [the A45 customer is] younger than your typical AMG buyer,” said Emery. “Not 25 years old, but 30 to 35 year olds. They’re probably still paying rent or sharing, or uni grads, or someone who’s had five years at an accounting firm.
“Some have even been trading in $5000-10,000 Corollas. There’s no particular trend. Buyers are coming out of V8 Commodores, out of non-sports cars.
“The C63 (above) created such a halo effect around AMG. …but buyers have previously thought they had to wait till they were 40 or 50 to get one.
“There are lots of people stretching, too… Were looking at $60,000 turbo Japanese cars but can now see they can get an AMG.
“The [A45’s] performance for the money is as good as anything. It means it’s not only the AMG badge that’s justification for buying the car.”
Mercedes said the A45 AMG is also attracting traditional hot-hatch owners who never thought they could own a Mercedes-Benz, as well as existing AMG owners who want the badge to be a family experience and can get the hot-hatch for their wife.
The German brand’s range of affordable AMG models will expand with the CLA45 AMG four-door ‘coupe’ due in October with a premium over the A45, while an AMG version of the upcoming GLA compact crossover is also expected.
Mercedes-Benz Australia says the A45 AMG is already sold out until February/March 2014, joining the regular A-Class with a waiting list for buyers.
BMW Australia’s boss recently said that Mercedes had been overly aggressive with its A-Class pricing, which starts at $35,600.
BMW ended up reducing the price of its rival 1 Series hatch to the same starting price.
Its BMW M135i hatch, priced from $64,900, is also a competitor to the A45 AMG.